Friday, 26 April 2019

Private school bullshit

From The Daily Mail (as The Times is behind paywall):

Private schools save the taxpayer billions of pounds every year, their head teachers claimed yesterday.

The schools not only provide a huge financial benefit to the Exchequer but also wider benefits to society, according to analysis from the Independent Schools Council.

The report found that private school fees have doubled over the last 15 years, with the latest annual rise hitting more than 3 per cent.


Fees go up at compound 7% year because they are largely rent, they charge according to what parents are [daft enough to be willing] to pay*. The fees have nothing to do with real costs, if parents' net disposable income goes up by £x,000, then fees go up by £x,000.

But heads said the savings from taking pupils out of the state education system as well as the added benefits of community facilities, jobs created and tax contributions added up to a £20billion boon for the taxpayer, The Times reported.

£20 billion? That's bollocks. There are 615,000 children at private school, the average cost of/amount spent on one child at a state school place is about £6,000 a year, 615,000 x £6,000 = £3.7 billion a year.

Ah...

This was made up of £3.5 billion saved by freeing up state school places...

OK.

... £4.1 billion in tax paid by the schools and their suppliers

How is that relevant? If people weren't doing work for private schools they'd be doing something else, possibly much more useful to the economy, and still paying the same amount of tax.

... and a further £13.7 billion in the value of the work supported by the schools across the economy.

A completely made up figure, in other words.

I wonder why they opened themselves to ridicule like this, had their headline figure been £5 billion a year, that still sounds like a lot of money to Joe Public (although it isn't, in national accounts terms) and I wouldn't have questioned it.

* I am happy to report that my 18 year-old's grammar school has taken the last term's fees, ever, and I have cancelled the direct debit. That's £150,000 I'll never see again. Two more years of my 16 year-old's school gouging me and I'm done with this bullshit, which was all Mrs W's idea, as you can imagine.
------------------------------------
UPDATE re Bayard's comment: "I do know that now they charge what the market will bear so that they can offer bursaries to pupils from a less wealthy background, which they didn't do in my day. If you wanted money off then, you had to win a scholarship. However, I don't suppose all private schools do this."

I'm not sure what the difference between a 'bursary' and 'scholarship' is, but I was clever/lucky enough to get a free place at what was (and possibly still is) a very good grammar school Up North in the late 1970s. It was blindingly obvious to me even at the tender age of ten or eleven that this was not an act of charity or benevolence on their part, they needed ten per cent or so of smart kids from poorer families to bump up their grade averages; thus making the school more marketable to wealthy parents.

So I got the 'free' (and very good education, no complaints there, apart from Mr Illingworth the maths teacher and Mr Dorian the English teacher who were unalloyed cunts, but even they couldn't drag me down from an A at O-level) and the school could bump up their fees a bit; both parties win! I fulfilled my side of the bargain by getting very good O-level results, much better than the average for my year, and then my idiot parents fucked both sides over by taking me out of school at 15 3/4.

12 comments:

Bayard said...

Some time ago I came across a piece of paper dating from my entrance to the private school at which I was educated, which gave the fees payable. A little calculation to allow for inflation and I was amazed how cheap it was by today's standards, and this is one of the top schools in the country.

However, I do know that now they charge what the market will bear so that they can offer bursaries to pupils from a less wealthy background, which they didn't do in my day. If you wanted money off then, you had to win a scholarship. However, I don't suppose all private schools do this. I suppose it is a measure of how crap our education system has become that parents are prepared to pay so much for an education for their children. To what extent this represents "rent" I am not sure. There is obviously a cachet about having sent your child to a top public school, though I am not convinced that the old boy's network is all that it is cracked up to be, unless you went to Eton.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, see update.

mombers said...

How many billions do you reckon the twattery from a narrow group of public schools who have run the country for decades have destroyed? More than £20bn I think :-)

Mark Wadsworth said...

M, excellent point. They are the vanguard of Home-Owner-Ism.

Macheath said...

Thirty years ago, an independent school I know well used teaching staff to run its sports teams and relied on word-of-mouth for marketing, supported by an annual advert in the Sunday Times Schools Guide edition.

Now the same school employs half a dozen specialist sports coaches (including a 'Head of Strength and Conditioning', whatever that might be) and three full-time marketing staff. Meanwhile the senior management team, once a Head and his Deputy. now consists of a Head, two Deputies and three assistant Heads. This is, from my experience, fairly typical of developments in similar schools.

Since around 50% of the school's revenue goes in salaries and staff costs (including contributions to those management pensions), it doesn't take a Mark Wadsworth to guess the impact of this on fees.

Mark Wadsworth said...

McH, exactly. My son's school spends the extra money on new sports halls, new science blocks, library building etc. Looks really good to prospective parents. Actually it's just posturing. Those buildings don't make the kids any cleverer.

Bayard said...

"I'm not sure what the difference between a 'bursary' and 'scholarship' is,"

A scholarship is a prize for academic excellence. Usually it consists of sitting an exam or series of exams along with other hopefuls, the hopeful with top marks, or the top n hopefuls, where n is the number of scholarship places on offer, get the reduction in fees. In my case I was n + 1. A bursary is an award based on the ability of the parents to pay the fees. In the case of my almost pathologically publicity-shy old school (as soon as they could avoid appearing in league tables, they did, despite being very close to the top, and mentions in the press seem to be limited to misbehaving old boys), the bursaries are charity, the school having been founded as a charitable institution, efforts are being made to return to that aim.

"How many billions do you reckon the twattery from a narrow group of public schools who have run the country for decades have destroyed?"

Not a "narrow group" really, just one, Eton. Whilst I am against the banning of private education, I do think the country would be better off without Eton. OTOH, the twats would just go somewhere else to be educated before f*cking up the country.

"Those buildings don't make the kids any cleverer."

Nothing makes the kids any cleverer. Intelligence is something you are born with. Do you mean "better educated"? In my case, life would have been considerably less bearable if my school hadn't had such good wood and metalworking facilities.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, my local private schools referred to free place as "scholarship' and 25% or 50% reduction as "bursary".

Re clever v intelligent v well educated, don't split hairs.

Bayard said...

"don't split hairs"

I'm a pedant, it's how I roll.

The Stigler said...

"It was blindingly obvious to me even at the tender age of ten or eleven that this was not an act of charity or benevolence on their part, they needed ten per cent or so of smart kids from poorer families to bump up their grade averages; thus making the school more marketable to wealthy parents."

and you have an entrance exam to keep out not very bright kids that normally drag down schools This is also how some of the academies went from being mediocre comprehensives to good performers - they found tricks to stop the low performers coming to their schools. Same head and teachers, but they've moved from bottom quarter of town to top quarter.

Out of curiosity I did a load of reading and research and the effect of school is far lower than the variation of children. This can distort what parents think are good schools. They hear that loads of kids from a school do really well, but actually, that school might not be doing very well - they just got a really good intake of kids (there's a school near me like this).

"My son's school spends the extra money on new sports halls, new science blocks, library building etc. Looks really good to prospective parents. Actually it's just posturing. Those buildings don't make the kids any cleverer."

We couldn't afford private ed, but some friends did it and one thing they mentioned was all the sports the kids could do like squash and archery and how they had coaches and I had to bite my tongue, because you can just do that stuff for small money yourself. Like, archery clubs run courses for kids that cost about £100. My daughter does ice skating with a GB-level figure skating coach and it's about £80/month.

Bayard said...

"This is also how some of the academies went from being mediocre comprehensives to good performers -"

A friend of mine ended up running an academy, which she and her business "turned round". I asked her what she did to achieve this and she said, "only one thing, improve staff morale". I asked her how she did that and she said by reintroducing discipline. No doubt that meant getting rid of the most disruptive kids to some other, less fortunate school, but I didn't enquire.

Anecdotally, a colleague of mine many years ago spent half his time at a grammar school and the other half at the same school as a comprehensive. He said that the disciple went to ratshit to the point where teachers were being beaten up by the older boys, and the education standards followed.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS, B, thanks for anecdotal, it seems we are pretty much agreed on all this :-)